With the return of seven players from the football team, Monday's practice wasn't that much different than any other for head coach Randy Smithpeters.
Sure the longtime Harrisburg boys' basketball coach had — for the first time — a full squad to run the floor with and while most things were business as usual, the time lost for Smithpeters and the Bulldogs are like trying to stop the grain of sands falling through the hourglass.
Time is of the essence for Smithpeters as he is incorporating a brand new defense into the Bulldogs' repertoire as the team prepares for the season opener Monday against Gallatin County in the sixth annual Bulldog Invitational.
"It's nice to have everyone back and just like we knew it would be, a lot of people are rusty and they haven't been in the gym for a while," Smithpeters said. "Conditioning is a concern and a concern that we can't do much about with the time frame that we have to get ready for this first game."
Harrisburg was allowed its first practice on Nov. 5 and at the time, the football team was beginning a deep playoff run that lasted another two weeks, until Saturday's semifinal loss to Rochester.
Now with guys like Logan Hartley, Justin Younger, Daniel Lewis, Capel Henshaw, Ryne Roper, Gabe Oglesby and Dakota Upchurch joining those like Caleb Bartok, Tyler Smithpeters, Jarren Goldman, Bahari Amaya, Snjolfur Bjornsson, Eli Taborn-Scott, Jake Simerly and Carson Batts, Smithpeters is working hard to use time wisely and put the appropriate pieces into place.
"We're trying to throw everything in a bundle and go over a thousand things in four practices and come away the best we can.
"It's like I had imagined before: we're going to have to set our bench marks down the road, maybe looking at around Christmas where we truly understand a lot of the things that we are trying to do, before we fully get into the condition to play the way we want to play and to make the shots and do the things that we want to do with the basketball."
With the notion that basketball is a skilled sport and a lot of Harrisburg's players haven't been in the gym since June, Smithpeters is taking it upon himself to divide things into three main focuses.
"On the conditioning side, we're trying to incorporate that in our practice as far as going up and down. We don't have the time to spend to just condition. We're doing offensive/defensive things that take us up and down the floor, so we can combine those two things.
"We expect to spend 50 percent of our time on the defensive end. Also, an important note that I have in my practice schedule is just a lot of shooting. We do want to take the time to shoot, because again, half of our team hasn't been in the gym until Monday and actually some of them had some people banged up and Tuesday was the first day. We need to bring them along as quickly as possible."
Page 2 of 2 - Michael Dann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @spydieshooter.